IRS reveals millionaires claiming unemployment benefits

For most taxpayers, 2008 wasn't a year to remember. As a whole, incomes and profits tumbled while foreclosures and job losses soared. We saw the anecdotal evidence in the headlines and photos splashed across the media. (Meanwhile, unscrupulous Wall Street types took greed and avarice to a whole new level.)

Hard data from the IRS backs up what we knew to be the case: The recession hit the country hard. But the numbers also tell a shocking, much lesser-known story: Quite a few millionaires were claiming unemployment benefits, too. So while millions of Americans with struggled to keep their homes and feed their kids, a few thousand millionaires, though in not nearly as bad shape, were on the dole, too.

Giving some super-rich folks the benefit of the doubt, if you will, it appears some of them didn't have such a spectacular 2008. Seventeen of those 13,480 taxpayers who reported income of more than $10 million found themselves standing in the unemployment lines alongside nearly 9.5 million other Americans in 2008. Unemployment benefits for those taxpayers averaged $5,765. The number claiming unemployment benefits increased to nearly 3,000 for those taxpayers who reported overall income of more than $1 million.

Of course, unemployment benefits were up across the board -- nearly 25% -- at all income levels. The super poor to the super rich reported a collective total of $43.7 billion in unemployment benefits.

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